Lawmaker Criticizes Law That Caps Monthly Alimony for Women at 100 Kyats

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 15 July 2014

RANGOON — A lawmaker from Burma’s largest opposition party is calling for an amendment to a century-old law that caps monthly alimony payments for divorced women at 100 kyats, or about US$0.10.

Khin Htay Kywe from the National League for Democracy (NLD) raised the issue during a session of the Lower House of Parliament on Monday, saying that the law, enacted in 1898 during the British colonial era, did not allow for enough financial support, especially for single mothers and their children, given the rising costs of living.

“100 kyats is nothing today. Even a cup of tea costs more than that,” she told lawmakers.

Prominent lawyer Robert San Aung has campaigned for amendments to the law for nearly a decade. In 2005 he submitted a letter to the country’s prime minister calling for a higher alimony cap, and when his request was denied, he submitted letters again to the then-military government in 2006 and 2007.

“The amount that women pay in legal fees to courts and lawyers when they sue [for alimony] is more than the money they receive in return,” he said, adding that as a result, women rarely attempted to file the lawsuit. “If a husband can earn a lot of money, he should support his [ex-] wife and children.”

In 2012, Burma’s High Court submitted a proposal to Union Parliament to increase the cap on alimony payments to 50,000 kyats in line with inflation.

The alimony cap falls under Section 488 of the Criminal Code. Under the law, men cannot sue for financial support from their ex-wives.